Ireland Destined For The Six Nations Grand Slam (Again) In 2019?

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Ireland Destined For The Six Nations Grand Slam (Again) In 2019?

We are now just a matter of months away from the 2019 Six Nations and Ireland will fancy their chances of winning the competition for the second year in succession. Joe Schmidt’s side capped off the 2018 Six Nations campaign by clinching the Grand Slam at Twickenham Stadium on St Patrick’s Day weekend – it doesn’t get much better than that…

Ireland are now looking to repeat after that triumph and plenty of punters will be backing the defending champions to do just that. With two home games against England and France, Ireland eliminate the need to head to two of rugby’s most intimidating venues. Schmidt will be quietly confident of leading his side to victory in both fixtures at the Aviva Stadium.

The key to Grand Slam glory will be in that fifth and final clash with Wales in the Principality Stadium. Warren Gatland’s side have put together an incredible run of nine victories in a row and the Cardiff crowd will be looking forward to that one. Whether the Grand Slam is still on or not, most rugby fans believe that the Six Nations title will be up for grabs.

Ahead of the opening weekend, Ireland are favourites for the crown. Now clear as the second-best team on the planet, the defending champions are coming off the back of a Grand Slam triumph AND an autumn victory over New Zealand. Six Nations odds are showing Ireland as the most likely winners and Schmidt’s men will continue to receive heavy support in the build-up to the 2019 tournament.

Jonathan Sexton was named World Rugby Player of the Year for 2018 – the first Irishman to win the accolade since Keith Wood in 2001. Pipping All Blacks star Beauden Barrett to the award was a huge personal honour for Sexton and the Leinster fly-half will be hoping to lead his nation to World Cup glory in Tokyo next year.

First and foremost though, his full focus and attention will on the Six Nations. That opening weekend clash with England will set the tone for the rest of the series; a win will give Ireland the hunger to push on and challenge for a Grand Slam whilst defeat on home soil will damage confidence and momentum. Ireland are currently odds-on to emerge victorious in that encounter.

In theory, Ireland should make relatively light work of Scotland, Italy and France; though it would be foolish to write anyone off. Ireland were thumped by Scotland two years ago and the Scots were simply sublime at Murrayfield in the 2018 tournament. That has potential banana skin written all over it…

Winning the 2019 Six Nations title by any means is the initial priority but back-to-back Grand Slams would cement Ireland’s status as a special team. It could be a huge year for Schmidt’s men and taking things one game at a time is essential. Let the fans get carried away thinking about the Grand Slam decider in Cardiff, Ireland’s players have a job to do – and that job is to win.

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